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Data Design Co_ Product #01 PT. 2 Launch: Los Angeles | A Story of Sprawl in 5 Coasters


Data Design Co_ Product #01 PT. 2 Launch: Los Angeles | A Story of Sprawl in 5 Coasters

Brian Barr

Data Design Co_ is proud to present our Product #01 PT. 2: A Story in Sprawl. This time we turned our focus to Los Angeles. In this coaster set we showcase the growth of the City of Angels from its humble founding in 1850 to the current day.

Product #01 is a vertically stacked set of coasters set in a laser cut birch plywood case. Each coaster is laser etched in green acrylic and represents a snapshot of Los Angeles at a particular time, 1850-2015. At the center of each coaster is the map of the City of Los Angeles as it existed at that point in history. The date is reflected on the top of the coaster. On the left is the population at that time. On the right is the size of the city, reported in square miles.

Each snapshot can be enjoyed as its own artifact of municipal development embedded with rich American history. The dates in Los Angeles' development mirror auspicious moments in the history of the United States. 1850; California becomes a state, Zachary Taylor completes his 15 months in office. 1909; the NAACP is formed, Bakelite is introduced, the Wright Brothers sell the world’s first military airplane. 1916; WWI rages, Wilson is re-elected, Jeanneatte Rankin becomes the first woman elected to Congress, and the Tournament of Roses switches from chariot races to college football. 1945; a year emblazed in all history books is juxtaposed by the final coaster. 2015; a year of incredible gains in humanity in the United States.  

The coaster set can also be enjoyed without any drinks at all. When you place the coasters back in their stand and look through it, something magical happens. Looking straight through the coasters you can see the city grow over time. If you look to the left of the coasters the population rises, each number clear enough to read the population. On the top the dates of each coaster run from left to right. On the right side the square miles of the city grow from top to bottom.

Some notes about the founding of LA and its growth over time. You'll notice that the bottom left portion of the coaster has no city growth; it is the Pacific Ocean. LA did not originally start out with coastal territory; this was a development that happened near the turn of the 20th century.

Los Angeles grew in leaps and bounds from 1900 until about 1945 when its geographical growth slowed. The 1945 map showcases a very similar LA to present day with only some slight areas added, and in some cases removed.

Los Angeles' reputation as a car city is shown in all its glory on the present day coaster reflecting the spiderweb of Interstates, Highways and major roads passing through the area.

A potentially shocking revelation (for non-locals) is how much of the LA area is not part of the City of Los Angeles. Compton, Santa Monica, and Burbank, commonly lumped in with Los Angeles, are their own municipalities. 

We are very proud to put this product into the wild. We hope that you are able to enjoy it with some good friends and drinks, or as a beautiful object for your coffee table.

The product was manufactured at Houston's Post-Studio Projects, a laser cutting studio.

New to the product for this and all of our coaster products is the addition of a North compass, a scale bar, and the name of the city on each coaster. We received some excellent feedback (thanks Amy!) that seasoned drinkers wanted to know what city they were looking at with each coaster.